Irish clinic to conduct rugby concussion study involving 200 schoolboys

The study at the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry is being pioneered by Dr Andy Franklyn-Miller

An Irish sports clinic is aiming to become one of the first in the world to comprehensively study concussion sustained during rugby matches.

Over 200 schoolboys will take part in the study at the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry, Dublin, and will be led by Director of Rehab and Research, Dr Andy Franklyn-Miller.

"The study comes about because over the last three years we've been managing the rehabilitation of patients with concussion in the clinic as day-to-day practice" Dr Franklyn Miller told Off The Ball.

"What we are yet to do is really access the depth and breath of technology available. The plan is to take these schoolboys and use every test on the market that's available to pre-screen them. 

"If you're a 16 or 17 year-old boy and you have concussion the accepted management is 'look you've just got to rest'. Boys that age if they're not at school and they're not able to play sport, they'll just sit in and play Playstation or Xbox, which has a significant challenge to it. Reading, thinking, watching TV, all of these things have a challenge to the brain after sustaining concussion.

"Rest isn't good enough. We don't say rest is treatment for any other injury. If you rupture your ACL, or if you have Achilles tendon pain or hip groin pain, rest is not a treatment. You need active rehabilitation."    

The €700,000 pilot study will monitor rugby playing boys from five schools (Blackrock College, St Michael's College, St Andrew's College, Gonzaga College and St Mary's College) and will introduce the concept of a "concussion passport".

The students taking part in the study will undergo pre-season brain scans and in the event of sustaining concussion during a game, they will be put through a rigorous concussion passport screening.

"The test will range from looking at eye movement and balance, all the way to cognitive thinking and through to the oxygen demands of exercise."

The passport will provide data to be compared and cross referenced during the season and will be refined to include only important information to parents, doctors and the players themselves.

The study is hoping to offer a better understanding of the effects of concussion and the long-term effects on the brain.